The musical style K-pop is enjoying incomparable success on the global stage, but “KPOP” on Broadway is just getting started. The original musical from creator Jason Kim and the troupe Woodshed Collective is the first of its kind — an unabashed celebration of the sonic world of South Korea-bred pop. K-pop, which has existed for decades, takes aural notes from hip-hop, disco and traditional Asian folk, but in recent years the electronic dance beats heard from groups like Blackpink and BTS have dominated worldwide charts and become synonymous with the genre. The cast of “KPOP” includes many real-life stars of the titular industry (affectionately called “idols”) who appear alongside trained theater performers. This results in a high-octane but jarringly uneven final product that is further hurt by Kim’s rudimentary book. Fortunately, the music revives this dying party.
In “KPOP” — now running at the Circle in the Square Theatre — MwE (played by real-life K-pop superstar Luna) is the golden girl of RBY Entertainment, a fictional producing agency which takes acronymic inspiration from South Korea’s nonfictional “Big 3”: SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment and JYP Entertainment. Combined, these idol-pumping juggernauts have a market capital value in the inconceivable billions. The fabricated RBY is producing a showcase that will stream to American audiences. MwE (like the sublime triple threat portraying her) has trained for cross-continental success since childhood.